Wednesday 29 March 2017

Revealed: the great schools' class divide

A HUGE class division in Irish education is confirmed in the 2006 college entry figures, published for the first time today. They show students from the fee-paying and grind school sector are three times more likely to go to university than to an institute of technology.

A HUGE class division in Irish education is confirmed in the 2006 college entry figures, published for the first time today.

They show students from the fee-paying and grind school sector are three times more likely to go to university than to an institute of technology. Academic snobbery was last night blamed for the gap which is particularly obvious in enrolments in third level colleges in the greater Dublin area.

Total enrolments from the top 100 schools to 29 colleges and institutions are published in today's Irish Independent and details of 400 schools are available on the website www.independent.ie/education. It is the first time a comprehensive list of feeder schools has been compiled from the current year's Leaving Certificates.

League tables recently published elsewhere have had to rely on last year's Leaving Certificate numbers and last year's intake.

The figures show that:

* 25.7pc of first year students in first year university this autumn came from fee-paying or grind schools.

* 7pc of students enrolling in the institutes of technology came from fee-paying or grind schools.

The figures make it clear that "education by chequebook" pays off as parents who fork out heavily for second-level education increase their children's chances of getting into university.

This year parents are spending around ?120m in fees to pay for their children's full-time secondary schooling.

Today's findings are all the more remarkable as private and grind school enrolments account for only one in ten Leaving Certificate students.

But there is a growing trend of parents seeking to buy advantage for their children with a steady increase in enrolments to private schools and grind schools, while in Dublin alone there are up to 20,000 vacant places in schools in the free education system.

The study shows that the top three feeder schools in the country are grind schools, charging up to ?5,700 in fees - based in Dublin, Limerick and Galway.

The results-driven grind schools are criticised for fuelling the points race, while the fee-paying sector stands accused of "cherry-picking" students to the exclusion of those with special needs.

Apart from full-time students in grind schools, many parents already paying school fees have no problem topping up with grinds on weekends or during school holiday periods.

According to a spokesman for the Institute of Education, the biggest grind school, in any one year hundreds of students from fee-paying schools are also attending weekend or revision courses in Leeson Street.

Blaming academic snobbery for the educational divide, Dr Dermot Douglas of the Council of Directors of the Institutes of Technology said there was a lack of appreciation of what the institutes actually did. Some students and parents saw the institutes as supplying vocational training but not higher education.

This was despite the fact that the institutes' awards were benchmarked in the same way as the universities on the national qualifications framework and their qualifications were recognised worldwide.

While most of the educational establishment is opposed to feeder school lists, Dr Douglas said one benefit was that it allowed institutes to identify schools in their area from which they were drawing few students.

John Walshe and Katherine Donnelly

Who Goes to College 2006, The top 400 feeder schools.
League Tables 2006

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